Kitty’s Best Day Ever
By Deborah Hansen
With all those cat naps, how do we excite and provide the best care for the felines in our care? Impressing a creature that sleeps anywhere from 15 to over 20 hours a day and seems to have little interest in being in our facility—especially when the feline appears to despise us—can seem like an uphill battle. But with all these challenges, we can still create the best day ever for the cats we care for in our boarding facility, and that can be accomplished by establishing consistency and routine.
The Right Routine
Setting and maintaining a routine goes a long way in comforting the kitties staying at your boarding facility. When the feline arrives, safely place them into their enclosure and give them some quiet time alone. This will allow them to feel comfortable enough to explore their new environment.
After they have settled in, develop a feeding routine. Establishing the order and way you address food, water, and the litterbox will create an expectation and develop a sense of security. Little things like giving them their wet food and taking out their water bowl then replacing their water bowl while adding kibble will help the cat know what to expect during the next feeding time. When the order is followed for every meal, it provides a sense of security that is helpful to build trust and helps make the cat feel safe.
Consistent schedules and procedures also help a cat feel secure in their boarding environment. When the cat has similar interactions from when they hear the first person enter the building in the morning to the time the last person leaves at night, it helps the feline feel confident they will be well provided for in your care. Establishing and maintaining schedules and procedures also assures that every cat receives the best care possible at your boarding facility. One possible schedule may look something like the following:
- After arriving at the facility, say good morning and do a quick visual of all the enclosures to check for anything abnormal like vomit, diarrhea or blood.
- Take care of any clerical work or facility business. (This is important because the cats will become accustomed to the sounds that are made during these procedures.)
- Prepare and feed breakfast, keeping in mind that the order and routine used for feeding time will bring comfort to the felines.
- Morning alone time.
- Morning playtime, interaction with staff or designated time out of the enclosure.
- A quick follow-up with the owners regarding the happenings of the day.
- Mid-day meals.
- Afternoon alone time.
- Afternoon playtime, interaction with staff or designated time out of the enclosure.
- Litterbox cleaning.
- Evening meals.
- A final walkthrough to assure water bowls are full and clean, there is nothing abnormal in the enclosure and to say goodnight.
- The sounds of any clerical or facility procedures as the last staff member leaves for the evening.
Keeping the sounds and actions as similar as possible from day to day will help reassure the felines—from the skittish to the angry and every kitty in between—that they will be taken care of and that their owners will be returning. Investing time and attention to consistent routines and procedures helps develop a sense of security for the cats in your care. The regularity you develop during the first boarding stay will help the kitty adjust quicker to boarding during their next stay.
Comforts of Home
Having something that smells like home will also provide reassurance to the cat that they are safe, their family loves them and will return for them. Having the family place a used pillowcase or shirt into a sealed bag before they leave can be a big stress reliever when given to the cat. I would suggest spreading out the items the family brings that smell like home. Giving these items to the cat in the middle of the boarding stay can make them feel like they are having the best day ever.
If the cat comes with multiple toys, I would put them in a sealed bag to keep the smell of home on them. Then I would divide the toys up so they can have a fresh toy at different intervals throughout the boarding period.
Those kitties that hide in the litterbox all day probably also hide under the bed most of the day at home, but the owners still want to see that their cat is acting “normal.” So it is important to still reach out to the owners and let them know their feline is having the best day ever! Taking the initiative to reach out to the family with a quick text or picture helps to ease the anxiety or guilt the family may be feeling about leaving their beloved kitty in your care. Of course it is also important to discuss the cat’s normal behavior with the owner so you can recognize anything out of the ordinary and know when to be concerned. Having a supply of text message templates can help you quickly fill in the cat’s name and send off an original and unique message once a day.
The best day ever for a feline probably isn’t how we would personally imagine our best day ever. But with consistency, routine and following up with the feline’s family, every cat in your care can have the best day ever—even if they are cat napping the majority of the day!